Let’s be honest. Today, the word sales or sales person has bad connotation. It comes from the world of pre-internet days when there was a knowledge gap: when sellers had more information about the product than buyers.


While today’s world of information-technology has leveled that playing field, the word salesperson still sounds dirty. But it doesn’t have to be. We are witnessing and part of the rise of the non-sales selling Daniel Pink talks about in his book To Sell Is Human.


Hi my name is Carrie and I created Artist Strong to help artists like you build your skill and develop your unique artist voice. Today we are going to discuss how artists can more consciously use Pink’s outline of non-sales selling to help promote your art.

Back in the day salespeople would often tote the phrase “ABC: Always be closing.” It’s part of the culture that led us today to distrust sellers. Dan Pink says let’s instead use a new ABC: Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity.

Attunement is about taking the perspective of the buyer: what can we do to give them the best experience possible? It’s also about being a connector and listening to and building relationships with people around you. So, what can artists learn from attunement?

Making art is an act of connection.

So use it! Share your art on social media and be honest and vulnerable: tell the story behind your art. And don’t just share the work, respond to every single person who comments or likes your post. Ask them questions, and take note of their comments! Understanding how they see your art will help you better communicate why your art is powerful and worthy of their investment.

Buoyancy is about how you stay in the game: how do you connect to your intrinsic motivations to keep pursuing your goal? I’ve talked about this before as resilience and grit.

Dan Pink offers a research based strategy that is easy to use and will help us stick through the hard times. I know a lot of artists who believe in affirmations but he found research that says something else is more powerful and effective:

Ask questions.

By asking yourself a question when you struggle with a problem in your art you are actively asking your brain to immediately look for answers. For example: can I see this artwork?

I am immediately drawn into conversation and thought process that has me answering yes, by posting my work on social media. Or, by building relationship with a local yoga studio. Or maybe a local coffee shop? Or, by create a launch promotion… by asking questions, we begin down a rabbit hole of ACTION. And that’s the whole point: to keep us moving toward our larger goals for our art.

Pink found that insurance sales people who saw rejection as temporary rather than a permanent experience not only sold more insurance, they stayed in the game longer. Are you an artist who wants to be involved in art for the long or short game?

Clarity is all about specificity: when we know specifically what we offer and how we serve we are more effective in doing both.

Clarity depends on contrast.

We see things around us more clearly in comparison versus isolation. Pink shares a test two researchers performed. They asked a blind, homeless man on the street if they could change his sign. When they found him it read, “I am blind.” The researcher changed it to the following phrase, “It is springtime and I am blind.”

By the end of this mini-experiment the blind man’s cup was overflowing with donations, where before he had little to none. Contrasting his inability to see with the simple but obvious fact that it was springtime motivated people to donate.

As artists we need to consider how we can offer contrasts when we share our art. What kind of stories can we share that help showcase and make our art stand out? Instead of posting your artwork to Instagram with a caption of: work in progress, what can you write that will get the attention of your audience to help the post stand out?

Pink specifically mentions a study done by two researchers looking at artists. They asked artists to produce a drawing and gave them assorted resources and materials. The artists ended up dividing into two groups. One group asked the question: What good drawing can I produce? The other group asked the question: How can I produce a good drawing?

Aesthetically the researchers found the artists who asked the second question produced better artwork. They also followed up with this group of artists almost 15 years later. They found that over half of them had left the art world. Those that remained as professional artists were almost entirely made of the second group. Pink’s lesson from this?

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Find a problem don’t try to solve it.

Once we understand and begin to use attunement, buoyancy, and clarity we need to start putting our art out there and pitching the work.

Pink highlights the fact that people enjoy greater satisfaction from experiences than from objects. So: how can you make collecting your artwork an experience?

Create an onboarding experience for people who sign up to your email list.

It’s a gift and a sign of trust when people sign up for your email. So what can you do to create a positive experience for your subscribers? Create a welcome video that introduces yourself. Have a free low-res download of one of your artworks as a gift. Share a story or behind the scenes video that shows you creating your art.

There are countless ways to do this, just remember to ask yourself: how can I create the best experience possible for my potential collectors?

Let your community be part of your creative decision-making.

Pink found that movie script pitches that allowed the producer to feel involved in the creative process and like a valuable part of the decision making process had much greater chance of getting production deals.

How can you involve your community in the decisions about your art? You can ask for input on naming artwork, ask for color advice or ask for input on an unfinished artwork. You could also have a clearly communicated process for commissioned work you sell. What are other creative ways you can make your subscribers participants in your creative journey?

Ensure a swift, communicative, easy process for buying and shipping your art.

How can you make sure when someone does buy an artwork that they feel pampered? Do you have a thank you video or customized thank you page for when someone purchases an artwork from you? Do you have a system of packing your art that ensures it arrives safely and is fun or exciting to open? From the moment your collector has purchased your artwork they’ve begun a relationship of deeper trust: what steps can you take to reward them for trusting in you?

Pink ends with a discussion about how he dislikes the phrase upsell and wants us instead to think about a term he coins called upserving. Pink mentioned Seth Godin talking about the problem people face when they act like their service or product is doing the world a favor. We can get entitled and feel like we are owed something. And that dirty, salesy feeling returns. Instead they both ask us to assume WE are receiving the favor.

How would you behave and what decisions would you make if you believed the buyer was doing YOU a favor by investing in you and your art?

To Sell Is Human was an informative read with actionable advice for today’s artist looking to promote their art. I encourage you to borrow it from your local library or, if you want to invest in your own copy, please consider using my affiliate link below this video.

Now it’s time for you to Be Creatively Courageous: in the comments below tell me one specific choice you can and want to make to help create an experience for your potential collector.

If you enjoyed this video you can help me make more free content like this. Become a patron of Artist Strong via Patreon at www.patreon.com/artiststrong. You can get all kinds of goodies like a library of art resources as well as enjoy special opportunities like pay what you want pricing to own original art by yours truly. Do you believe the arts are important? Support Artist Strong today. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time.

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